Ebola Outbreak Thought to Have Spread to Liberia

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The largest Ebola outbreak in Africa in seven years has likely spread from Guinea to the bordering nation of Liberia and possibly Sierra Leone.

Bernice Dahn, Liberia’s chief medical officer, stated that five people in Lofa County in northern Liberia had likely died from contracting Ebola. In Guinea, at least 86 cases and 59 fatalities have been reported. The capital Conakry has not been affected, according to government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara, contrary to reports by the United Nations Children’s Fund who said outbreak had spread there.

Commenting on the spread of the virus to neighboring countries, Unicef spokesman Laurent Duvillier stated, “The forest region where Unicef delivered the emergency assistance on Saturday is located along the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia with many people doing business and moving between the three countries. Risk of international spread should be taken seriously.”

Manifestation of Ebola begins with a sudden onset of an influenza-like stage characterized by general malaise, fever with chills and chest pain. Nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting are also common symptoms. Regarding the central nervous system, victims experience severe headaches, agitation, confusion, fatigue, depression, seizures and sometimes coma. Those who contract Ebola typically die multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) due to fluid redistribution, hypotension, weakened intravascular coagulation and focal tissue necroses. The hemorrhaging that comes with the disease is typically not the cause of death.

Spokesman Camara added, “The three cases, which were registered in Conakry, have no link with Ebola. The analyses were made abroad. The outbreak of the disease may be heavier than 59 but the health ministry will release a statement on the disease soon.”

Unicef plans to dispatch 5 metric tons of aid to the worst affected regions of Guinea, and Unicef spokesman Timothy La Rose told Businessweek in an e-mail that “This outbreak is particularly devastating because medical staff are among the first victims. We are focusing on prevention. We are alerting the public on how to avoid contracting Ebola. Since there is no treatment, this is the best way to stop the spread.”

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